The construction of any theology is a secularization, which is necessary but risks distorting the distinctive experience that birthed it. Gregory Palamas holds that Christian morality must be based in asceticism. The mediation of Christ, conceived as a series of reconciliations, requires participation in the divine energies through a life of repentance. My project is to suggest that Gregory offers a corrective to much of the Christian social justice industry.
Saint Gregory Palamas was well known as an apologist for hesychasm. The article, however, reveals the Saint as an expositor of the spiritual life and a great Father of the Church. In The Homilies, Saint Gregory masterfully uses biblical images to present a theology of fasting. Asceticism is given a strong eschato- logical and therapeutic orientation. Personal prayer and corporate prayer are held in balance. Fasting is connected with service to the poor. Saint Gregory posits that theoria, or the vision of God, was the expe- rience of the Old Testaments Saints, and insists that it is a possible—if not also normative—experience for all Christians. The Father links asceticism and apatheia to the Cross, giving the spiritual life a strong Christological context and goal. He unites dogma and spirituality in both his person and teaching, giving us a paradigm for both theology and the spiritual life.
This paper seeks to elucidate the way in which the principle of justice/righteousness functions in the thought of St Gregory Palamas. As the paper notes, the concept of ‘justice’ or ‘righteousness’—the biblical equivalent of justice—was a central concern to both the ethical systems of the Ancient Greeks and the Judeo-Christian tradition. Following in the wake of these ancient currents, St Gregory regards righteousness/justice as being inextricably connected to divine economy and the human endeavour to respond to the grace it imparts. As such, the ‘justice’ of Palamas is rather different from retributive and punitive forms of justice and the modern associations therewith. Though justice/righteousness is ultimately a response to the divine call to deification, it is not, in St Gregory’s view, indifferent to the realities of social justice.
This paper provides a brief overview of the historic relationship between the ancient city of Veria and the saintly family of St Gregory Palamas. In addition to covering some historical milestones in the Palamas family’s sojourn in Veria, the paper also discusses some of the specific churches and monasteries with which St Gregory and his family had personal connections, sites that contain objects of veneration and have remained prominent destinations for pilgrimages up to our current era. Finally, a brief description is given of modern sites and celebrations that honour the Palamas family, including the canonisation of St Gregory’s parents and siblings in 2009.
This paper seeks to clear the way for new historical-theological research into the corpus of St Gregory Palamas and his followers in late Byzantium. While recognizing the immense impact and the extraordi- nary contribution of pioneering scholars such as Fr John Meyendorff, this paper examines the methodological and hermeneutic questions that dominated Neo-Palamite scholarship in the twentieth century. Attempting to move beyond dated paradigms and narrow interpretive categories, the paper seeks to make room for the wealth of new sources that have been made available in the decades since Meyendorff’s groundbreaking work. Calling attention to the wider school of Palamite theologians writing between 1339 and 1445, this paper specifically analyses the question of theological development and the problem of change in Byzantine theology. It also examines the question of Nicholas Kavasilas and his relationship to the Palamite cause in an effort to illustrate the complexities surrounding the broader Palamite movement. Precisely because Neo-Palamite scholars have been so influential in propagating the field of Palamite studies, their contributions must be extended and built upon with renewed, objective research into the complex world of Palamite theology.
Palamism is a modern term coined in the early twentieth century by the Assumptionist Martin Jugie. Jugie’s aim was to demonstrate that the Orthodox Church was guilty of ‘innovation’ by its endorsement of Palamas’ essence–energies distinction in the Godhead and could therefore not accuse the Roman Catholic Church of being alone in introducing new doctrines. John Meyendorff set out to answer Jugie by proving Palamas’ continuity with the patristic tradition, but against Jugie’s neo-scholastic construction of Palamism set up an existentialist and personalist construction of his own. Modern Western scholars have tended to follow Jugie rather than Meyendorff. Since the 1960s, however, the publication of Palamas’ entire corpus of writings has led to a series of studies that have deepened our comprehension of Palamas’ thinking. ‘Palamism’ today is moving beyond its original ideological construction, and although still controversial has the potential to enrich the understanding of both Orthodox and Western theologians as to how human beings are able to participate in God.
Following upon the effects of modernity, the regulation of ordinary life relative to the practicalities of human existence became a sphere of its own with no need of ontological justification. Charles Taylor’s monumental works on modern identity and secularisation represent a valuable resource in appreciating a situation that may be Western in inspiration but is, in fact, ultimately global and, thereby, affects the potential of Orthodox thought, and, more particularly that of Saint Gregory Palamas, to make a difference. However, the apparent inability for Western thought to provide an ontology for ordinary life offers an opening for reactivating the potential of Hesychast spirituality to speak of ordinary life in ontological terms. After considering Taylor’s contributions, we turn to Saint Gregory’s critique of ‘Hellenic error’ in order to suggest an ontological revalidation of ordinary life through the enhancement of immanence and to point to its permanence in the Orthodox Church.
Hesychasm and Immanence
Concept of Justice
Liturgical Veneration of St Gregory Palamas
Christian Social Theory
Georgios I. Mantzarides
Tikhon Alexander Pino
Crossroads of Interpretations
Homilies of Saint Gregory Palamas